Outgoing President Trump pardoned Elliott Broidy late Tuesday night, in a grant of clemency to a man who pleaded guilty to a charge relating to an illegal lobbying scheme that involved having Trump play golf with the prime minister of Malaysia.
Broidy pleaded guilty in October 2020 to a conspiracy charge related to a sweeping lobbying business in which the longtime GOP fundraiser took money from a range of foreign interests in exchange for promised policy changes at the White House and Justice Department.
As a Republican National Committee deputy national finance chair in a year in which the RNC’s finance chairs included Michael Cohen and now-Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, Broidy played a key role in President Trump’s 2016 inauguration celebration, famed at this point as much for its record-setting price tag as for its baroque graft allegations.
In the pardon statement, the White House said that Broidy is “well known for his numerous philanthropic efforts, including on behalf of law enforcement, the military and veterans programs, and the Jewish community.”
He pleaded guilty, however, to one count of conspiracy to serve as an unregistered foreign agent.
Specifically, prosecutors alleged that Broidy tried to get the DOJ to drop its criminal investigation into the 1MDB scandal, a massive corruption scheme that involved the government of Malaysia and Goldman Sachs. He also was accused of trying to convince the Trump administration to deport Guo Wengui, the Manhattan-based Chinese billionaire who portrays himself as an enemy of Beijing and has in recent years become an ally of Steve Bannon.
The White House said in its statement that the pardon was supported by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grennell, and Eric Branstad, the son of Trump’s ambassador to China.
Unlike many others pardoned on the last full day of Trump’s presidency, Broidy pleaded guilty to a crime in which he offered direct access to President Trump.
As a vice chair for the 2016 inaugural, Broidy played a role in raising money for the event, which served as a way for Republicans and corporate lobbyists who had rejected Trump during the 2016 election cycle to make inroads with the new administration.
“Everybody loves Elliott,” Trump reportedly once said.
Prosecutors did not charge Broidy with anything relating to the inauguration. Instead, the allegations focused on the period after: when Broidy tried to cash in on his connections to the Trump administration through a series of covert lobbying campaigns.
Prosecutors said that Broidy took millions of dollars, including one $1 million deposit from a client in exchange for simply traveling to Bangkok. It was at a meeting there in the Thai capital that Broidy discussed the campaign to have Guo extradited.
His schemes included the services of other Trumpworld luminaries, including Rick Gates, whose last-minute attempt to secure a pardon from President Trump appears to have been futile.
Broidy also, prosecutors said, “emailed a high-level official from the National Security Council in an attempt to arrange a golf game” between Trump and the prime minister of Malaysia. That didn’t work out, though the longtime GOP fundraiser allegedly lied to his Malaysian client about bringing up the 1MDB scandal in a meeting with Trump.
The other portion of Broidy’s wrongdoing took place at the direction of a Chinese government minster, who hired the GOP fundraiser to secure Guo’s extradition.
That failed as well, but not before Broidy tried to coax casino magnate, Trump associate, and GOP megadonor Steve Wynn into getting involved.
Broidy resigned from the RNC in 2018 over a separate scandal involving a $1.6 million hush money payment, facilitated by Michael Cohen, to silence a former Playboy model with whom Broidy had had an affair.